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Video everywhere!

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Analysts have predicted that 2011 is set to be the year of mobile. It’s not a difficult conclusion to come to, given the enormous growth of the mobile web over the last few years. But 2011 will most likely stand out from its predecessors as the year that people stop predicting the ubiquity of mobile.

By Christmas, the old saying ‚mobile will be big, do something‚ will have morphed into ‚mobile is big, what have you done?‚

Nowhere will this be truer than in South Africa. We have a mobile penetration rate of about 98%. Over 20 million South Africans own web-capable phones, which serve as their primary point of contact with the internet. For most of these users, who don’t have access to TV, DVDs or other gadgets, it’s also their only access to the entertainment world at large. Their phones deliver an interconnected choice of games, social networks and video. And as feature phones expire and smartphones replace them, mobile entertainment is fast becoming the industry’s leading growth area.

Mobile video specifically is on an exponential rise. Video traffic from mobile phones increased by 60% globally in 2010, with just one example being 100 million YouTube videos served to mobile devices every day. A recent Nielsen report showed that 20.3 million people watched mobile video in the US in the first quarter of 2010, spending an average of three and a half hours each.

As far as file size, cost and video quality are concerned, the future is bright. As mobile network operators move to 4G, entry-level speeds will be redefined and users at the top end will experience super fast internet. As data usage increases, costs will naturally come down as we’ve already seen locally in 2010. And as for video formats across multiple platforms, 3gp (which is the current de facto video format for lower-end handsets) will eventually make way for better quality video that mp4 is already delivering to higher-end devices.

Add to the mix the wildfire dispersion of video via social media platforms, and the always-on nature of mobile, and it’s clear that the concept of ‚video everywhere’ is a deepening and expanding reality.

It’s within this context that we’re refocusing Zoopy.

Zoopy repositions itself as mobile video infotainment platform

Until now, we’ve been an online platform first and a mobile service second. We’re turning this on its head and positioning Zoopy as a mobile video platform, with a mobi site, apps for the major platforms, and a website.

Until now, we’ve focused on offering our users two core, and quite diverse, services: user-generated content sharing: and Zoopy TV (with made-for-web video stories ranging from news and movie reviews to fashion and games). We’ve made the decision to focus our business on one of these areas only: an area that is unique, poised for growth and more monetisable: creating quick, light, informative and entertaining mobile video. Video that can be watched on the bus home, over lunch at work or while out with your friends.

The new Zoopy will be a first of its kind ‚ a mobile video tabloid that will feature the best of international and local infotainment. Or as our slogan promises: the world in 90 seconds (or less). We’re creating a fresh look at the news and events of the day, in an entertaining format that makes it fun to catch up with what’s going on in the world around you.

Removing UGC from Zoopy has been a difficult but healthy decision. Monetising other people’s content has been notoriously difficult for major players across the globe. As a platform, you’re always juggling content ownership and flexibility on the one side and hosting/delivery costs and revenue opportunities on the other. Because the content is owned by the user, you’re not always completely free to package, edit or structure it in ways that are revenue-friendly: or change your strategy very quickly if a better idea comes along.

You’re also swamped with spam, offensive content and enormous quantities of low-quality uploads that very quickly start to dilute the viewing experience for the visitor.

The numbers have proved the value that users place in quality content, as we’ve seen Zoopy visitors gravitate more and more towards Zoopy TV videos over user-generated content.

Rather than trying to grow Zoopy in the UGC and mobile video infotainment spaces simultaneously, with one leg in and one leg out, it makes much more sense for us to focus our energies, resources and future on the part of the business we can do so much more with, by producing and growing our own content.

Ultimately this move will benefit our users. Our past and current users will have a clear reason to come back to Zoopy. Our potential users will have a clear understanding of what Zoopy’s about. And our new users signing up will meet a Zoopy platform with a clear promise that’s delivered on with relentless focus from day one.

In the end, this is the beginning of an exciting year for us all. The year that will be remembered as mobile’s coming of age. The year that the mobile web in South Africa delivered more than 150 million mobile ad impressions each month, with faster speeds and greater web access. And the year that mobile video infotainment became a reality for anyone with a mobile phone and 90 seconds to spare.

Visit Zoopy at http://www.zoopy.com

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